For the first time this season, every game this week will be of the conference variety. No 40+ point losses to Power 5 teams. No FCS scares. Every Sun Belt team is playing another Sun Belt team.
Except Troy. They have a bye week, and I think they're still a 17.5-point underdog in it.
For three programs, this will be their first conference action, and each of them could vye for the Sun Belt title this season. Still, two other programs already have a pair of conference wins. One looks like a new power, the other is barely hanging on.
What I'm getting at is we might as well be starting the season over again. There has only really been one game that mattered, Georgia Southern's win over South Alabama. The rest probably won't even come into play by season's end.
We think we know the contenders and the chumps, but really, we're still guessing. The only certainties in life are death and taxes. Though, we are pretty certain Larry Blakeney will be a position coach on Ed Ogeron's staff at UL Lafayette next season.
1 Georgia Southern Eagles 3-2 (2-0)
Well, it didn't take long. In their first year at the FBS level, Georgia Southern is in perfect position to win the Sun Belt. Sure, they are only 2-0 in conference, but their next four games are against numbers 8-11 on this list. The Eagles might not even see a challenge until November 8th against Texas State, and by then, the race could be all but over. Read the full game recap here.
2 Arkansas State Red Wolves 2-2 (0-0)
How clutch was Chris Odom's block of that field goal attempt? Instead of talking about a close loss to a solid Utah State team, Red Wolves fans can celebrate going .500 in their out-of-conference games. But now the season starts, and some new guys already have a head start. Time to get to work. Read the full game recap here.
3 South Alabama Jaguars 2-2 (1-1)
The Jags bounced back strong this week, holding Idaho scoreless through two and a half quarters. South Alabama also scored three touchdowns from more than 50 yards out, including a 59 yard pick-6 by Montell Garner. Read the full game recap here.
4 Texas State Bobcats 2-2 (0-0)
After giving up 14 points in the fourth quarter, it looked like Texas State was in trouble heading into overtime. Tyler Jones was the MVP with 279 total yards on the night, capped off by a 24-yard pass on third down in the third overtime. Despite looking good in their previous two losses, this was the first quality win for the Bobcats, but it won't be the last. Read the full game recap here.
5 ULM Warhawks 3-1 (2-0)
Let's get something straight. ULM has has close, back-and-forth games, where they barely squeaked out a win against the worst two teams in the Sun Belt. Yet somehow they are ranked fifth in our power rankings. I know a win is a win, but I might have to drug test my writers if they keep voting the Warhawks this high. Hopefully A-State will help set the record straight for me this Saturday. Read the full game recap here.
6 Louisiana Ragin Cajuns 1-3 (0-0)
I was going to write some bye week/bayou pun here, but I'm too stupid and ashamed to come up with one. Instead, I'll point out that the Sun Belt favorites haven't won a game in a month, but can still go undefeated in conference play. Especially since they dodge Georgia Southern. View the full bye week recap here.
7 Appalachian St. Mountaineers 1-3 (0-1)
App State had a decent first half showing, but just couldn't find the endzone in the second half. Their issues were compounded by a pair of turnovers. The Mountaineers could bounce back, but a game against South Alabama probably won't be it. Read the full game recap here.
8 New Mexico State Aggies 2-3 (1-0)
63-7 may look terrible, and it is, but I was at this game. The Aggies could have walked into Tiger Stadium and laid down, but they didn't. They forced three turnovers and a punt on LSU's first four drives, and eventually got the Tigers' starting quarterback benched. The NMSU backup, freshman Andrew Allen, would also see playing time, scoring the only Aggie touchdown on a 79 yard keeper up the middle. The loss may have been demoralizing, but there were things to build on, and thats all you can hope for in games like this. Read the full And the Valley Shook game recap here.
9 Georgia State Panthers 1-3 (0-1)
GSU had a bye week, but I'm pretty sure they're on the grind, all the time, it ain't nothin on their mind but... beating the Cajuns this week. We ain't playin witcha.
10 Idaho Vandals 0-4 (0-2)
Through a third of their season, Idaho is averaging only 64.5 rushing yards per game. Against South Alabama, they only put up 30. That's not going to cut it. Read the full game recap here.
11 Troy Trojans 0-5 (0-1)
Troy almost beat ULM. So, there's that. Read the full game recap here.